And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High
for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,
to give God’s people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
This week’s word is “prepare,” and it is linked with John the Baptist, the voice “crying in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:4 KJV). During these weeks before Christmas we are to be preparing a place for Christ to come into our midst.
Much of this preparation is watchfulness. “Be on guard,” Jesus says to his disciples—and to us (Luke 21:34). We are to be always on the watch and to pray as we wait for Christ’s return. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians:
…the Day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is,’ that sudden destruction comes upon them, as suddenly as labor pains come on a pregnant woman; and there is no escape. … so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake. (1 Thess 5:2-6 NJB)
Preparation involves paying attention and staying awake, so that the coming of Christ will not take us by surprise and so that we will be ready and able to recognize that day when it comes.
In the circle of the church year, Advent follows a long season of Ordinary Time in which the busyness and dailyness of our lives can distract us, making us forget to pay attention or to remember that we are living in expectation of Christ’s return. That is why we need Advent—it reminds us to pay attention, to be on guard, to keep watch that we might be ready for Christ when he comes.
From Kimberlee Conway Ireton, The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year (InterVarsity Press, 2008), p 21-23.
For those of you who’d like daily reflections during Advent, Christine Sine has gathered a whole host of writers on her blog, all of whom are sharing what they’re waiting for in this season of preparation.